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What to See and Do in Mexico
There are so many reasons to visit Mexico! The country's attractions are so incredibly diverse, it may be difficult to decide what to do on your vacation. You'll find modern luxury resorts and untouched natural reserves, gorgeous beaches, fascinating ancient sites, beautiful colonial architecture, colorful festivities and rich cultural traditions. To help you decide which of Mexico's attractions you would like to explore on your vacation, here's a quick look at what the country has to offer.
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A good place to start your trip to Mexico is in the heart of the country, the nation's capital, a huge, vibrant city, where ancient meets modern. Since the Benito Juarez airport in Mexico City is the busiest airport in the country, it's easy to find flights here and a convenient spot to begin your explorations. While there, don't miss Mexico City's top sights, including the National Museum of Anthropology.
A good way to get to know the historical center is by taking a walking tour. When your feet get tired, hop on the Turibus to enjoy the sights from a different perspective. And when hunger strikes, head for a great meal, perhaps at one of the best restaurants in the world.
Mexico City is an excellent destination for travelers on a tight budget. There are lots of activities you can do for free. See our list of Mexico's Top Free Things To Do, and it's quite easy to find a decent, cheap hotels in Mexico City.
Mexico City gets a bad rap; it's not as dangerous as many people think. However, like in any big city, you should be sure to take general safety precautions against theft.
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With nearly 6000 miles (9330 km) of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Mexico entices all those who enjoy sea and sand.
Read through our guide to some of Mexico's most popular beach destinations - you've undoubtedly heard of many of them. If you'd like to avoid the beaten path, you might want to consider some of the unknown beach destinations in Mexico. And if you prefer to enjoy your beach time in your birthday suit rather than a bathing suit, you might be interested in Mexico's nude beaches and resorts.
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Mexico's Colonial Cities
Mexico's colonial history marked the collision of two very different cultures. This period witnessed great destruction, but also gave rise to a flowering of art and architecture. Many cities in Mexico retain their colonial town plan, cobblestone streets and beautiful colonial architecture.
You can step into the past on your visit to Mexico by staying in a beautifully restored historic hotel.
Or visit one of these lovely and fascinating colonial cities, many of which have been recognized by UNESCO as a heritage of humanity cities.
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- Guadalajara, Jalisco, the birthplace of mariachi and tequila, is Mexico's second biggest city and has plenty of museums and historical sites to keep tourists busy!
- Merida, Yucatan, known as the "white city," has a vibrant cultural scene and is a great spot from which to explore the archaeological sites and natural attractions of the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Morelia, Michoacan has elegant buildings made out of pink quarry stone and is a destination for people who enjoy colonial architecture and local culture, who will also enjoy strolling through Morelia's lovely plazas and gardens.
- Puebla, Puebla, is renowned for its Talavera pottery, but its historical center is chock-full of beautiful colonial buildings. It's also the home of the chile en nogada, Mexico's national dish.
- Oaxaca, Oaxaca is a destination that combines gorgeous colonial architecture with colorful traditions, beautiful handicrafts, and delicious cuisine.
- Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico's silver capital, is a great place to buy jewelry but is also a charming colonial town set in the mountains south of Mexico City.
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Mexico's Ancient Sites
Mexico was home to some of the world's great ancient civilizations. The Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mayas and Aztecs left their imprint on the land. Visiting their cities and temples fills the visitor with wonder at these ancient cultures. Learn about Mexico's ancient civilizations.
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Mexico's Natural Wonders
Did you know that Mexico is among the top five most biodiverse countries in the world? Well, it is, and its amazing biodiversity makes Mexico an ideal destination for appreciating nature. You can release baby sea turtles on the beach, go swimming with whale sharks, or explore the second largest coral reef in the world. From the monarch butterfly reserves of Michoacan and excellent opportunities for birding in Oaxaca or the Yucatan Peninsula to whale watching in Baja California, Mexico offers plenty for nature lovers to see and do.
See our list of Mexico's top natural wonders.
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Adventure Tourism in Mexico
There are lots of opportunities to practice watersports and adventure tourism in Mexico. Get your adrenaline rushing as you zip-line through the jungle or explore an underground river. You can learn to surf or enjoy a bird's eye view of the beach and ocean as you parasail.
The world's second largest coral reef is just off the Riviera Maya, making it a perfect destination for scuba diving or snorkeling. If you're more interested in activities on land, consider exploring the Copper Canyon.
Consider some of these active adventures that will make your trip to Mexico unforgettable.
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So much more than just tacos, Mexican cuisine is diverse and delicious. A visit to Mexico can offer the opportunity to explore beyond the Tex-Mex fare which many people consider "Mexican food." Try mole, chiles rellenos, quesillo, tlayudas and tamales and let your taste buds experience flavors they never knew existed. And don't forget to wash it down with your choice of tequila, mezcal or pulque!
To get the most out of your dining experience in Mexico, you should try to adapt to Mexican mealtimes. Of course, whenever you're ready for a snack there is always lots of street food available, and don't worry if you're vegetarian - there are plenty of options for vegetarians in Mexico.
See some photos of Mexican food.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Mexico's beautiful handicrafts and folk art are the result of skill and knowledge that have been passed down through generations. Many visitors to Mexico end up with bags twice as heavy on their return trip because they just couldn't resist the temptation to purchase lots of handicrafts! (Bring an extra bag, just in case!)
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Mexican People and Culture
Mexicans are proud of their roots and traditions: it's evident in the way they carry out their daily activities as well as in the way they celebrate important occasions. See our Month-by-Month Guide to Mexico for information about festivals and events throughout the year.
Some Important Mexican Holidays